Knicks ride Jalen Brunson masterclass to huge victory

jalen brunson, knicks
Mar 31, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) celebrates after hitting a three point basket during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks got potentially their biggest win of the season Friday as they went into Cleveland and defeated the Cavaliers 130-116.

The Knicks’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now just one. To put it simply, a Knicks win or a Miami Heat loss will clinch the spot for New York.

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Jalen Brunson stepped up big time for the Knicks:

The Knicks were playing this game without their All-Star, Julius Randle, and they will play the remainder of the regular season without him.

Therefore, they were going to need a huge contribution from the rest of the team, especially from point guard Jalen Brunson.

Brunson prevailed and had the game of his life. He scored a new career-high 48 points on 18-32 shooting (7-12 from three), dished nine assists, and snagged four rebounds to uplift the Knicks.

Brunson had an epic clash with Cavs’ star guard Donovan Mitchell, with both players scoring 20+ points in the first quarter and both also scoring at least 40 points on the night in what was an electric potential first-round preview.

“You guys have seen it all year. I think there’s nothing that he does that surprises you, and it’s a testament to how tough-minded he is,” Tom Thibodeau said about Brunson after Friday’s game, “He’s always so mentally tough, particularly when he has adversity. 

Along with Brunson, seven total Knicks players scored in double figures. Mitchell Robinson logged a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds and also recorded two steals and two blocks.

Obi Toppin scored 12 points and was 2-2 from three-point range in his first start of the season in place of the injured Randle.

Immanuel Quickley led the charge off the bench with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Josh Hart provided a spark as well and scored 11 points and shot a perfect 4-4 from the field.

The Heat play the Mavericks on Saturday. A Miami loss would clinch a playoff spot for the Knicks. Meanwhile, the Knicks will focus on their next game, which will be against the Washington Wizards at home on Sunday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_